Date Night . . . Gone Awry

Last night was date night. Cute W had bought tickets to see Guster at the Egg for Valentine’s Day, and we were going out for Vietnamese food for dinner first. Our usual sitter was performing in a school concert, so we booked one of her friends, a nice girl who’d babysat with us before. Cute W took the bus to work in downtown Albany so that I could meet him, and then we’d drive home together at the end of the evening. The girls enjoy a babysitter evening: it usually involves more tv than usual and something unhealthful for dinner.

So 6:30 pm came, and there was no babysitter. We’d originally talked about 7 pm, so I hoped that she was just off by half an hour. I emailed her and called her cell, and updated Cute W that I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to Van’s for dinner. By the time it was after 7 pm, I had: called the sitter again, called a neighbor, posted a pathetic status to Facebook, brainstormed with Cute W and another friend, looked unsuccessfully for the babysitter’s mom’s phone number, and presented the girls with the frozen pizza extravaganza that was their dinner. M was grouchy, and J became so upset with my agitation that I had to spend precious time holding her on my lap reassuring her that it was no big deal, really not a problem at all, such a tiny occurrence among the many more wonderful and terrible things that could happen. . . all while I just wanted to put her down and get back on the phone.

By 7:40 pm I had a New Revised Plan, which involved one friend hosting my children at her house so that a second friend could do some super-wonderful, on-the-fly babysitting for both of us (Hostess Friend had received some tickets last-minute). Hostess Friend’s kids were already tucked in, and M & J went all “Team B”* on me  and gathered up sleeping bags, pillows, books, and flashlights in preparation for being the Least Maintenance Babysittees Ever. I’d even planned for M to read to J, so their babysitter could fire up a chick-flick on DVD asap. Cute W, meanwhile, had ordered himself an appetizer after spending an hour nursing a drink. I grabbed a protein bar and a banana for dinner. It was not the date night we’d planned, but now it was a nutty story that ended happily with a carpool with friends that we like, so that’s pretty good, right?

Except, that’s when M reported, “J says her stomach hurts.” Sure enough, J was clutching her stomach and beginning to cry. Babysitter Friend said, “I’m sure she’s fine. Go, go!” But that is what Babysitter Friends are supposed to say. The jig was up. J was almost completely, positively, surely just suffering from the stress of seeing me pacing and calling and ranting for the last hour. But how could I ever forgive myself if she brought a stomach bug into the house of Hostess Friend and did anything that would require Bodily Evacuation Material Clean-Up from Babysitter Friend?

I called Cute W to abort the mission. Actually, I offered him the option of waiting for our friends to bring him the tickets so that he could see the concert by himself, but at that point, he was too crabby.  He had spent the past hour and a half basically hanging out waiting for me, and now he had to walk to a bus stop to catch a bus home. If we’d given up earlier and he’d had his car with him, he could have gone to his regular Wednesday night soccer game, but now the whole evening was trashed.

Speaking of the whole evening, it would have been most appropriate if there had been an announcement at 6:25 pm: “The role of Katie’s Id will be played by Miss M. B. this evening.” Throughout the night, she’d say things like “This is all [babysitter]’s fault!” and  “What is wrong with her?!? I’m so mad!!” All while I’d say half-soothing motherly things like, “I understand that you’re angry and disappointed, but I don’t think that this is helpful right now.” The girls headed into the night air to head for home, J clutching her stomach and sniffling, M rolling her eyes like a crazed horse, “J’s totally fine! Her stomach doesn’t even hurt! You were about to go! This is ridiculous!” At the car, M happened to run into another neighbor, one of her friend’s dads, who made the mistake of asking her how she was. What followed was a full-on angry rant. As I caught up with them, he called out, chuckling, “Great night, huh?”

Sure enough, my perfectly healthy J was asleep by 8:45 pm, and soon afterwards I ran out quickly to catch Cute W at the bus stop (yes I left them alone. I’m okay with 15 minutes, not 3 hours). Lucky for me, Cute W brought some spring rolls for my late dinner. Do you think I could have possibly eaten every single one of them? Oh, yes I did.

You may remember that I was a little bit bummed earlier this week because I wanted to see Miss Representation, but it conflicted with the concert/date night. So the evening was a double waste, because if we hadn’t planned to go to the concert at all, we could have just barely squeaked through some tag-team child care, with me going to see the movie, then coming home in time for Cute W to go to his soccer game.  Oh well.

I’d sent an email to our babysitter asking her to please check in to let us know she was okay, and I received a very apologetic reply later that night. She’d completely blown it off. She was performing in the school concert, too.

It’s just a good thing that M doesn’t have access to email yet!


Please do not comment that I should have called you. It’s hard to ask for help, it took a while to realize that the sitter was never coming, and then I thought I’d achieved a back-up plan. If I’d had more time and/or didn’t have a feasible back-up plan, I might have called you. But if you tell me now how very bored and up-for-anything you were last night, even though I know you’re being kind, it will sort of make me want to hit you. I’m not saying that that’s a mature or appropriate response, but that’s how I will feel. Also, keep in mind that in all likelihood, my daughters (and perhaps YOUR children) will be babysitters in the future, and they are likely to make the occasional mistake, too.




*Team B refers to our dorky referring to ourselves as a family team when we need to pull together and accomplish something. Yes. You can throw up now.

One Comment

  1. June

    I won’t say you could’ve called me, because by the time I got there, you’d have been asleep AND missed the concert. Bummer, dude.

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